Research from the Ohio State University College of Public Health, in Columbus, suggests that the risk of childhood obesity, a growing concern in the U.S., can be reduced by putting children to bed before 8 p.m.
The researchers examined reports from mothers of 977 4-and-a-half-year-old children born in 1991 regarding their typical weekday bedtimes. The answers were divided into three categories: 8 p.m. or earlier, between 8 and 9 p.m. and later. Responses were compared to the obesity levels of the same children at an average age of 15. Of the group with the earliest bedtime, comprising about 25 percent of the subjects, only one in 10 were obese, compared to 16 percent of those with childhood bedtimes between 8 and 9 p.m., representing 50 percent of the subjects. The youngsters that went to bed the latest reported a 23 percent obesity rate, the highest overall.
Dr. Meena Khan, a sleep medicine specialist at the university’s Wexner Medical Study Center, comments about the difficulty of maintaining proper bedtimes: “Kids do well with a schedule and a routine.”